The Tennessee Titans offense has had issues to open the 2022 season.
After an encouraging starts to both of their games, with touchdowns on both of their opening drives, the offense has not been able to sustain success over four quarters yet.
A recently tracked NextGen stat reflected those struggles, charting where the Titans rank in offensive efficiency in scripted vs. unscripted play-calling.
During the first 15 plays of a game; also known as the “scripted plays”, the Titans rank second in the NFL in offensive EPA/Play so far in 2022. After that initial 15 play script has run its course; they plummet to dead last in that stat.
As described by Inside the Pylon, “Expected Points Added (EPA) is a football statistic that seeks to measure the value of individual plays in terms of points. This is done by calculating the Expected Points (EP) of the down, distance, and field position situation at the start of a play and contrasting it with the situation at the end of the play.”
Because every situation in football is different, EPA is used to take basic statistics (like yards gained) and place a quantifiable value on them.
The Titans have looked really strong offensively to begin their games, but off-script, they have been the worst offense in situational efficiency. This is a drastic change from 2021, where Tennessee was consistent in both areas, coming right around league average in EPA for both.
Apropos of nothing, took a look at how teams perform on scripted plays (first 15) and unscripted plays this regular season. FWIW, here are the EPA/play splits for the Super Bowl teams this postseason:— Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen) February 9, 2022
CIN: 0.019 pic.twitter.com/08unQyZRBS
I asked Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing about the issue during Thursday’s press conference, hoping to get some insight into why the Titans “script” has had far more success than their improvised offense.
Downing seemed to believe it wasn’t a scheme or play-calling issue, and more based on lack of execution as games have unfolded.
“It’s a little bit of a misnomer with the ‘script’ term,” Downing said. “You set an opening script and it’s just a group of plays we like early in the game. Inevitably, you’re going to come off of that script because of the situation.”
“I would say why we haven’t been able to sustain is because our consistency hasn’t been there,” he continued. “Our execution as we’ve gotten into our second and third drives or the second half, we need to be more consistent of executing our bread and butter schemes.”
Downing may have a point about the Titans’ lack of execution. The offensive line play has been poor, eliminating a lot of options in the run game, and there are not many weapons on the offense capable of hitting explosive plays.
That said, the number don’t lie.
The Titans offense has not been good enough at making adjustments and being dynamic over the course of the game. Titans coaches have a game plan, and they seem stick to it, even when opposing defenses have figured it out.
A huge part of being a successful offense, and a successful play-caller, is adapting to the looks a defense shows you and molding your strategy to your personnel.
It’s time to accept that the 2022 Titans don’t have the personnel to flawlessly execute the “bread and butter schemes” of old, and find a way to get three-dimensional in your offensive approach.
If they can’t, they will continue to struggle once opposing defenses make adjustments after the opening drive.
Those numbers won’t change, and neither will the Titans win total.
Image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com-USA TODAY NETWORK